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Questions tagged [soft-question]

Questions that ask about some aspect of physics research or study which doesn't involve the actual physics. In general, soft questions can be answered without using physical reasoning.

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3
votes
1answer
655 views

Physical structures that trap information

I labeled this question "soft" because it might not make any sense. Anyway, what I'm wondering is if there's a notion in physics that deals with the ability of matter to trap information. For ...
3
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0answers
673 views

What's the difference between hypothesis, theory and law? [closed]

What's the difference between hypothesis, theory and law? I think I'm confused now because I exactly learned the misconception one as explained below in high school. According to this university's ...
3
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0answers
369 views

Why is imaginary time “outdated”? [closed]

I was looking at reviews for Sakurai's Quantum Mechanics textbook, and some mentioned it being outdated, specifically mentioning his use of imaginary time. Is this idea deliberately avoided in modern ...
3
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3answers
229 views

What widely recognized organizations set standards used by physics?

I recently answered a question about the meaning of the word "dimension" as used in physics. In that response, I provided the definition given in the International Vocabulary of Metrology (VIM) and ...
2
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2answers
1k views

Naive question on quantum mechanics and uncertainty principle

This is a follow up on this question, the answer of which points towards Quantum Mechanics. As stated I am not a phycisist so please forgive my ignorance. I will try to understand the issue by going ...
2
votes
1answer
352 views

Does gravity affects on electrons in a noticeable way? [closed]

Is there a way to force a free electron move in a low speed in order to observe it actually hitting 'on the floor'?
2
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4answers
716 views

Two soft questions about spin and the particle nature of electrons

How can we define spin as the spin of an electron around it's own axis if an electron is described by a probability cloud of finding an electron in a point in space? How does that probability cloud ...
2
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4answers
520 views

Laws of Atomic Theory - how is this possible? [duplicate]

Not sure if this is the right place to post, but how is it possible to have laws of a theory? A theory is not able to be a law, since it's just an explanation that can always be disproven. So how is ...
2
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1answer
472 views

How to pronounce $\textrm{eV}\!/c^2$

It seems that $\textrm{eV}\!/c^2$ (and its multiples) is commonly used as the unit of mass in particle physics. For example, David Griffiths uses it quite naturally in Introduction to Elementary ...
1
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2answers
2k views

Level of calculus required for physics [closed]

First time for me here so kindly let me know if I violate the rules - especially if this is a duplicate. After reading the page how to become a good theoretical phycist, I started a serious revision ...
1
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3answers
1k views

What sort of jobs do physics graduates with B.Sc/M.Sc get? [closed]

I've been told that in countries like Israel the truth of the matter is that the only available work for B.Sc./M.Sc. in physics/math is only to be high school teacher. To do serious stuff you need to ...
1
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6answers
59k views

Forces on a ball thrown upwards

When a ball is thrown up in upward direction, it is said that force is in downward direction. Why we don't we consider the force given to the ball to throw up in the upward direction? Is there is no ...
0
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3answers
1k views

Should these be called “weights” or “masses”? [closed]

Yeah, those circular metal disks. Weights or masses? I call them weights because when I attach them to a spring I'm interested in their weight, but it feels odd saying a "Pick up the 100g weight". "...
0
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1answer
12k views

Negative and positive energy and Hawking [closed]

I don't have any physics background (except the material we did in high school-long time ago). I was watching a documentary with Stephen Hawking about whether God created the Universe and I could not ...
33
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24answers
4k views

Your favorite Physics/Astrophysics blogs? [closed]

What are the Physics/Astrophysics blogs you regularly read? I'm looking to beef up my RSS feeds to catch up with during my long commutes. I'd like to discover lesser-known gems (e.g. not well known ...
82
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11answers
11k views

Why must a physical theory be mathematically self-consistent? [closed]

I always read in modern physics textbooks and articles about the need for physical theories to be mathematically self-consistent, which implies that the theories must not produce contradictions or ...
73
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1answer
5k views

What happened to David John Candlin?

This is an ultra-soft question about relatively recent history. While reading some of Mandelstam's papers, I noticed that he cites David John Candlin consistenly whenever he does anything with ...
13
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11answers
13k views

Books that every layman should read [closed]

To add to Books that every physicist should read: A list of popular physics books for people who aren't necessarily interested in technical physics. (see also Book recommendations)
11
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2answers
18k views

Best physics olympiad resources [duplicate]

I'm looking for good book recommendations for preparing for the International Physics Olympiad. As stated on the IPhO syllabus, the topics covered are about the same as those in the first year or two ...
24
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3answers
11k views

Why are they called “cyclic” coordinates?

In Lagrangian formalism, when $\frac{\partial L}{\partial q} = 0$, the coordinate $q$ is called cyclic and a corresponding conserved quantity exists. But why is it called cyclic?
21
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4answers
4k views

Is there a physics Puzzles site like Project Euler?

I am looking for a site that publishing riddles and problems such as Project Euler publishes problems in computer science. Is there any similar site that is hardcore in the area of physics? This ...
11
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7answers
6k views

What are the most important papers in physics? [closed]

Recently I got the book "On the Shoulders of Giant" from Stephen Hawkings. It consists of more than 1000 pages of classical publications in physics. However 900 pages are given to the work of ...
2
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3answers
3k views

Should linear algebra and vector calculus from traditional courses be replaced with `geometric algebra`? [closed]

geometric algebra gives geometric meaning to linear algebra and much more. it can provide a coordinate free geometric interpretation of spaces. those who learn of ...
39
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2answers
14k views

What are Stephen Hawking's main contributions to research-level physics?

Without a doubt, Stephen Hawking is the most famous living scientist; indeed, his public visibility in all of history seems to be rivaled only by Einstein and easily eclipses giants of physics such as ...
19
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2answers
2k views

“QFT is simple harmonic motion taken to increasing levels of abstraction”

"QFT is simple harmonic motion taken to increasing levels of abstraction." This is my memory of a quote from Sidney Coleman, which is probably in many textbooks. What does it refer to, if he meant ...
12
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3answers
2k views

Mathematical Physics Book Recommendation [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Best books for mathematical background? I want to learn contemporary mathematical physics, so that, for example, I can read Witten's latest paper without checking other ...
7
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1answer
668 views

“Topological” notions in physics

I've been trying to make sense recently of the usage of 'topological' in various fields of physics, and get sort of an intuition for what this means in context. This all boils down to my main question ...
14
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3answers
2k views

How are physics and computer science getting united? [closed]

How is theoretical computer science getting united with physics? Phenomena like Quantum Computing uses Quantum Mechanics to be able to compute things, how are computers helping not just to model our ...
19
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5answers
6k views

What do theoretical physicists need from computer scientists?

I recently co-authored a paper (not online yet unfortunately) with some chemists that essentially provided answers to the question, "What do chemists need from computer scientists?" This included the ...
13
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5answers
1k views

Online physics collaboration tools

I.e. online discussion with your friends. A forum is probably too overkill in this case. Yet so far nothing can beat direct communication. Important feature: the ability to archive discussions. We ...
10
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5answers
7k views

How does the research in theoretical physics differ from mathematics [closed]

I would like to know what is the difference between research in theoretical physics and pure mathematics. In particular, what does a theoretical physicist actually do all day long for his research? In ...
4
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6answers
2k views

What are the frameworks of physics? [closed]

Are there physical theories in use, which don't fit into the frameworks of either Thermodynamics, Classical Mechanics (including General Relativity and the notion of classical fields) or Quantum ...
3
votes
4answers
247 views

Is it possible to have incommensurable but equally valid theories of nature which fits all experimental data?

Is it possible to have mutually incommensurable but equally valid theories of nature which fits all experimental data? The philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend defended this seemingly outrageous ...
12
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3answers
16k views

Is it possible to kill a human with a powerful magnet?

I'm asking in terms of physics. Can powerful magnetic induction rearrange spins of my body in such way I will die? How? Or maybe it can rip all iron from me, which would make my blood cells useless? ...
8
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1answer
2k views

Areas of computer science required for quantum computing

What knowledge of computer science should I have, to be able to pursue research in quantum computing. I am a Physics undergrad and would take three core courses in QM, before the completion of my ...
8
votes
1answer
564 views

Physical intuition/interpretation of fractional derivatives/integrals?

Oftentimes, when the derivative and integral operations are introduced within the realm of physics, we are taught some physical interpretation of them: Velocity is the derivative of position ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

Non equilibrium statistical mechanics [closed]

A question kept bothering me about the Non-Equilibrium Statistical mechanics, can somebody give a simple description of how one approaches this subject? Is there a exact formalism, as we have for ...
5
votes
2answers
691 views

In what order should the subjects be studied in order to get to String Theory [duplicate]

I know: Quantum Mechanics (Griffiths Level, currently doing Sakurai Level) Mechanics (Newtonian+ Lagrangian/Hamiltonian but at level lower than Goldstein/Landau) Classical Electrodynamics (Griffiths ...
5
votes
0answers
887 views

A gentle introduction to CFT [closed]

Which is the definition of a conformal field theory? Which are the physical prerequisites one would need to start studying conformal field theories? (i.e Does one need to know supersymmetry? Does one ...
4
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7answers
3k views

For a theoretical (not mathematical) physicist, is there a need to learn pure mathematics?

For a theoretical physicist (not a mathematical physicist), is there a need to learn pure mathematics ?
4
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0answers
310 views

Learning Roadmap to Mathematical Physics [duplicate]

Currently, I am a graduate student specializing in algebraic geometry. On the other hand, I have also become extremely interested in the mathematical physics. However, I am not sure what steps I ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

Connections between classical and quantum mechanics?

I've done basic or introductory mechanics at the level of Resnick and Halliday. I'm currently studying calculus of variations and the Lagrangian formulation of mechanics on my own. I read somewhere ...
45
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3answers
11k views
16
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5answers
7k views

Why is the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics the most widely accepted one?

I've been digging a lot into quantum physics in the last few weeks. I didn't care much about the maths, just about what empirically happens to get a conceptual idea about quantum phenomena. The most ...
16
votes
6answers
3k views

Why should any physicist know, to some degree, experimental physics? [closed]

I've been trying to design a list with reasons why a proper theoretical physicist should understand the methods and the difficulty of doing experimental physics. So far I've only thought of two points:...
13
votes
2answers
344 views

Can a web community write papers? [closed]

the internet has changed science drastically. Not only in terms of distributing knowledge e.g. via online encyclopedias as wikipedia and freely available sources of publications as arXiv but also as a ...
8
votes
2answers
539 views

Where does this term “shell” with prefix “on-/off-” come from?

Is there some historical reasons or is there a specific reason behind it? This question is connected to: Why on-shell vs. off-shell matters?
7
votes
2answers
5k views

How important is mathematical proof in physics?

How important are proofs in physics? If something is mathematically proven to follow from something we know is true, does it still require experimental verification? Are there examples of things that ...
6
votes
5answers
10k views

What does it take to become a top physicist? [closed]

What does it take to become a top physicist? Why do so many extremely talented young upstarts totally flop as they move to more advanced physics?
4
votes
3answers
448 views

Lexical/ontological/semantic knowledge base for physics

Are there lexical/semantic knowledge bases for physics that can be used for automated reasoning and AI (like Princeton's Wordnet and MIT's Conceptnet for common sense English usage)? If not in ...